@SubwaySessions Is Taking Over Fashion TikTok — And Dividing The Internet

When Kristina Rogers, aka @SubwaySessions, paired a nude lace bodysuit with red basketball shorts and pink pumps in one of her TikTok videos, she says she wasn’t trying to make a statement — she was showcasing her art. “I see myself as a canvas. That’s why I post. I don’t see it as showing off,” she stated on TikTok, later telling Rolling Stone, “If I don’t feel like I’m doing something, if I don’t feel an emotion with an outfit, then I’m not going to put it on.” In the clip, Rogers paces the New York subway platform, adjusting her shorts and top while waiting for the train. A mundane practice for Rogers, as her account sports similar videos, each a documentation of “art” as she paces the platform in wildly bold looks. Yet, when the 30-second clip went viral, suddenly, 1.9 million-plus viewers had opinions.

“So how’d u decide on this,” read one comment, followed by rapid-fire responses agreeing, criticizing the look. Conversely, there was a flood of appreciation for the daring choice. “This is a fucking fashion statement and I’m going to gobble about it” TikToker @benteegonwild remarks, fired up in a duet of the clip. Within days, Rogers had become a polarizing topic, inciting visceral reactions from critics and fans alike. 

TikTok has become a space for people to voice their thoughts, air grievances, educate, and recycle trends. Fashion, in particular, has become a field of its own. Creators cut short clips of styling sessions, DIY projects, and history lessons, culminating in a dumping ground of outward opinions and policing. But in a digital world where millions of people are shooting for shock value to gain followers, why did this account become so viral?

“What’s so interesting about this is the fact that people get so bent over policing [@SubwaySessions] style,” stylist Matt Rossi tells Rolling Stone. “The point of choosing what you want to wear is to express yourself. People who try to control that, it’s pointless.” 

Rogers, a millennial who declined to share her actual age, was born and raised in Armenia before moving to Russia, a space of “nonchalant looks without the enduring parts” of style, as she puts it. Later moving to France helped her interpret fashion as she does now. “I would go to different countries in Europe, and, you know, you always pick up little pieces of something that you saw, and it somehow stays in your subconscious.”

This sense of exploration between cultures and identities is what Rogers says gives her an edge. It’s a multifaceted understanding of style that has become crucial to the looks she puts on TikTok today. 

It wasn’t until three years ago, though, that Rogers put this training into practice, switching out her jeans and tee for a more boundary-pushing style. “Something comes to mind, and I try to mimic it or have a little resemblance to it,” she explains, pulling on her lifetime of vast cultural references to deliver outfits that have popularized her account.

Designers like Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s previous creative director whose foresight for maximalism and art reignited the house in 2015, are what made her fall in love with fashion. “Alessandro really did it for the brand, in my opinion. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a vision like that before.”

Now, however, she has found herself at the nexus of a much larger debate and isn’t alone in the selection of thin, white-presenting women gaining popularity on social accounts. As wardrobe stylist Gabe Bass points out, other fashion personalities like @saracampz or @tinyjewishgirl have rapidly gained traction with their “out there” looks. Meanwhile, creators of color like @hdnsnotarnd, who some call the “original subway girl,” have yet to see the same viral appeal.

“I do think all the sort of fashion girls that have gotten super popular from TikTok for dressing in a very eye-catching way, they’re white and skinny,” Bass says. “It’s just a fact. You’re going to be reacted to differently if you are a thin person in society taking risks with fashion.”

Eventually, the online discourse was enough to prompt an interview in The Cut, a Q&A that sought to unveil the mystery behind the viral TikToker. The interview seemed straightforward until a rogue comment unknowingly ladened with micro-aggressions brought everything to a halt.

“The most comforting fact is that I live on the Lower East Side, and I never have to go to Queens or Harlem, where people don’t understand,” she told The Cut. “Where I live is mostly a younger crowd and people who love that. I’ve only experienced the positive. People will stop me and take pics. I’ve never experienced hate in real life, it’s only the internet.”

As one TikToker noted, Roger’s targeted comment about Harlem and Queens, Black and Latino-dominated areas, was the dog whistle that reignited a viral discussion about race in fashion. “White women consistently think they invented high-low dressing. Black women and Latino women have been doing that for years.”

Gabriella Onessimo, a fashion writer and occasional stylist, argues the same, pointing out that many popular fashion trends like streetwear, Y2K, and the current obsession with sportswear “come from those communities.” 

While Rogers admits her statement in The Cut was poorly worded, she insists the comment was blown out of proportion. “I didn’t mean it in any particular way. I love everybody,” she explains. For Rogers, the statement was a reflection of what she believes is Harlem’s more conservative mindset. “You don’t go in underwear to your parent’s house,” she says. “I used to live in Harlem. I used to live on 111th street. People took [the comment] the wrong way.”

To some degree, she might be right. Manhattan’s Lower East Side, as noted by Bass, shows an outward proclivity for experimentation with fashion and style by younger crowds. “I think there is a certain uniform, but at the same time, those sort of areas are a little more open to experimentation and things that are a bit more out there,” they say. “That’s where influencers are more comfortable.”


There’s something to be said about living in places where you identify with the environment around you. It can’t be ignored that Harlem’s overwhelming demographic of Black and Latino residents starkly contrast the Lower East Side, which Rogers currently calls home. However, it’s clear the digital outrage isn’t specific to her, as X users were quick to call out similar instances where micro-aggressive comments from public personalities passed as blissfully unaware sentiments.

While Rogers found herself at the center of this viral discussion, the problem isn’t directly her. Fashion’s underbelly is littered with body dysmorphia and racism, and she represents only a fraction of the problem. Regrettably, Rogers is the product and scapegoat of a much larger unbalanced system at play.

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